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Belgium's EC Resolution on Kimberley Process Addresses Human Rights

Feb 20, 2014 1:26 PM   By Belgium
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(Editor's note: Peter Meeus, the chairman of the Dubai Diamond Exchange, provides a written response to the resolution that follows.) 

The Kimberley Process was set up to put a halt to the phenomenon of conflict diamonds and to prevent it in the future.  Seeing as 20 years ago, alluvial diamond fields were found Angola, Sierra Leone, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to have been exploited by rebel groups to finance their fight. That fight has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and it is estimated that, in that period, 15 percent of the annual production worth $10 billion could be considered as “conflict diamonds.” 

Reports from NGOs, as well as various UN reports, have shown this link between diamonds  and conflict, creating the concept of  “blood diamonds ” as a result. Under strong pressure from civil society to tackle the problem, the diamond industry has understood the risks of an international campaign against the purchase of diamonds the origin of which could not be guaranteed.
It took three years leading up to November 2002 that the Kimberley  Process Certification Scheme was set up and set the conditions for the control of the production  and trading of rough diamonds.
This scheme sets numerous conditions for the participating members, based on which they can certify no armed conflict are financed with the sale of rough diamonds, and that can prevent the conflict diamonds ending up on the regular market. Following the stipulations of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, the participating states need to observe certain minimum conditions that they have to implement in their national law and their institutions. They also need to provide supervision of the export, import and the national trade in rough diamonds and they must undertake to keep and exchange transparent statistics. The rough diamond is traded legally between the members if they meet the minimum conditions imposed by the certification scheme. In addition, the trade in rough diamond needs to be accompanied by a certificate, which ensures that this diamond is not used to finance armed conflict.
The Kimberley Process is accessible for all countries that want to join and which are in the position to impose and monitor provisions. There are currently 54 members that represent 80 countries.
The European Union (EU) and member states are considered to be one member; the EU is represented by the European  Commission. The World Diamond Council (WDC), representing the international diamond industry, as well as the organizations of civil society such as  Global Witness (which has since then left the scheme) and Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), are founding members of the Kimberley Process; since the introduction of the regulation, they have played an important role in this matter.
The Kimberley Process is chaired by rotation by the participating countries – the chair in 2013 was South Africa and in 2014 it is China. In order to execute the programs, working groups were set up, especially the working group of diamond experts, the working group charged with the follow-up, the working group for the statistics and the working group for the artisanal and the alluvial production.
The introduction of the Kimberley Process was regarded at the time as a first and as an innovative initiative to address this obstacle, especially because in the scheme, states, industries and civil society collaborate. Much progress was made in the fight against conflict diamonds. In the 1990s, the blood diamonds represented 15 percent of the total trade.  In 2000, when the negotiations started, this percentage lowered to approximately 4  percent and currently, it is said to be less than 1 percent.
Nevertheless, at the start the scheme showed certain shortcomings and since then, other problems have emerged.
First and foremost, the definition of the “conflict diamonds” concept is difficult: it is after all described as "rough diamond used by rebel movements or their allies to finance a conflict that is aimed at undermining legitimate governments." It is a fact, however, that human rights can also be infringed on by governments on a large scale, as is the case in Zimbabwe.
The efforts of the organizations of civil society and of some governments to have the observance of human rights included in the minimum conditions of the Kimberley Process were vetoed by several countries, in particular South Africa, India, China and Russia.
In addition, the monitoring and the follow-up process, as well as the sanctioning process yet need to be optimized. The relevant peer review set up is a voluntary  regulation, reporting being of varying quality; the organizations of the present civil society sometimes has difficulty paying the cost of participating and the recommendations are hardly followed. In addition, the Kimberley Process does not provide sanctions where it appears that the commitments are not observed: the participants can only be suspended or excluded.

As the decisions are taken unanimously, so far no penalties have been imposed, not even for extremely serious violations. Some diamond-producing countries are not members of the Kimberley Process. Furthermore, some regret that the scheme relates only to rough diamonds and not to the cutting industry. Finally, the scheme has to make do without a secretariat; although this offers a degree of flexibility, it does entail numerous disadvantages. The presidency changes every year on a voluntary basis, leading to a lack of continuity; after all, certain countries have more resources than others to act as president.
For the diamond industry the WDC represents its interest, and indicates the importance of having a credible Kimberley Process and the guarantee that all regulations and procedures are carried out by all members.
The meeting held in June 2011 in Kinshasa on behalf of the Kimberley Process has demonstrated that there are tensions in the organization and that the regulation shows flaws. The difficulties came to light with the response to previous events in Zimbabwe.
In 2006, a large diamond field was discovered in the Marange are and later, in 2008, the army set up a large operation to take possession of this diamond field, during which thousands of Zimbabweans who worked there were driven away. In July 2009, examiners were sent by the Kimberley Process to the spot and they reported “unacceptable and horrific violence against civilians by authorities in and around,” which led the other governments to place an embargo on the export of Zimbabwean diamonds.

That decision, however, did not prevent the violence from continuing. The Zimbabwean army has committed murders and people were tortured in the mines of Marange. In June 2011, the situation changed all of a sudden: the Kimberley Process (which was then chaired in rotation by the Democratic Republic of the Congo) stated that a legitimate government and not a group of rebels would have committed the reported violence, resulting in the decision to lift  the embargo against Zimbabwe ... That decision, which was not supported by the required consensus, was immediately rejected by the U.S., Israel and the EU, that continue to refuse the import of diamonds from that region.
Thus, a "gray area" was created in which Zimbabwe’s  diamonds enter the market in South Africa, are probably mixed with South African diamonds and that way obtain a "Kimberley certificate." The following year, during the November 2012 Kimberley Process meeting,  participants removed Zimbabwe from the "black list."
The EU, which is currently chairing the working group responsible for follow-up, has to make efforts as a driving force to defend the letter and the spirit of the Kimberley Process and to try and solve its problems. The Kimberley Process is in danger of losing all credibility if it ignores the violations of human rights in the context of the diamond industry. Although there have been positive political developments in Zimbabwe — particularly the agreement between the Zimbabwean political parties on a final draft constitution, as well as the announcement of a referendum — the  strengthening of the Kimberley Process still remains the question.
A. Considering the fact that raw materials can be a significant factor in conflicts and massive violations of human rights;
B. Considering the Kimberley Process, that was instituted in 2003 to put a halt to the phenomenon of conflict diamonds and to prevent it in future, in which Belgium, the Antwerp diamond industry and civil society have played and can still play a significant role;
C. Considering the resolution 56/263 of 29 November 2006 of the General Assembly of the United Nations held on  April 2, 2002 about the role of diamonds in conflicts;
D. Considering Regulation (EC) No 2368/2002 of the Council of December 2002 for the implementation of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for the international trade in rough diamonds;
E. Considering the resolutions of the European Parliament of  July 8, 2010 and  April 7, 2011 on the situation in Zimbabwe;
F. Considering the declarations on June 24, 2011 and  November 22, 2013 of the spokesman of Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, on the occasion of meetings of the Kimberley  Process;
G. Considering that it was not possible to observe human rights in the diamond trade, which by the way resulted in the withdrawal of the NGOs from the meeting of the Kimberley Process in Kinshasa on June 23, 2011;
H. Considering that the respect for human rights is essential to the implementation and the control on compliance with the Kimberley Process;
I. Considering the importance of the diamond industry for the Belgian economy;
J. Considering the conclusions of the Council of Foreign Ministers on  April 18, 2013;
K. Considering the policy paper of December 21, 2011, that provides for the deepening of transparency concerning raw materials;
L. Considering the issue of traceability of the cut diamonds needs to be raised;
M. Considering that the private industry sector needs to play its role in full to meet the objectives openly advocated by this process, and considering that this sector needs to carry out its duty to provide to prevent the human rights from being violated and to stave off the risks that in certain cases conflicts are financed when the occasion arises;
N. Considering the importance of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), that constitutes an international standard to improve the transparency in the raw materials  sector;
O. Considering Directive 2013/34/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of June 26, 2013 regarding the annual financial statements, consolidated financial statements and related reports of certain types of business enterprises, to change Directive 2006/43/EG of the European Parliament and of the Council and to repeal Directives 78/660/EEG and 83/349/EEG of the Council;
P. Considering  that all countries in the world need to apply the same strict rules of the Kimberley Process and that requirements which differ according to the country cannot be tolerated;
Q. Considering the importance of, following the example of the Kimberley Process applying to diamonds, also aiming for the traceability of a whole range of minerals such as gold, coltan, cassiterite or wolframite;
1. Monitor the compliance and the safeguarding of a credible Kimberley Process;
2. Devote itself to formulate a definition of the diamonds certified by the Kimberley Process, which unequivocally and definitely provides for the exclusion of the production and the processing, as well as the trade of rough diamonds that can be directly linked (financially or non-financially) to an armed conflict, violence or serious human rights violations;
3. To encourage the working group responsible for the reformation of the Kimberley Process to soon finalize its activities, including the drafting of a definition for the “conflict diamond” concept;
4. In the framework of the Kimberley Process to strive for a uniform, worldwide application and enforcement of the minimum standards, as well as for an augmentation of the checks and application standards, in particular the checks,  transparency and follow-up of the implementation of the recommendations that were formulated during the peer reviews;
5. Support the efforts made in the framework of the Kimberley Process so more countries will join, in particular the diamond-producing countries which are not members;
6. In the framework of the mechanism for administrative support, support the current structure of the secretariat financially and with other means, both within the Kimberley Process and with respect to other parties concerned;
7. To advocate an equal participation of all actors, while maintaining the working groups system;
8. Offer support to regional initiatives, such as the one of the  International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), that fights against the illegal exploitation of raw materials;
9. Examine the possibility of cross-referencing and comparing the data from the Kimberley Process  to those from the voluntary EITI-process, as well as with the data resulting from the new reporting obligations which have been imposed on the  exploitation industry, in order to better identify possible fraud and forgery among others;
10. To continue offering support to the organizations of civil society, so they can continue to actively participate in the Kimberley Process and to continue encouraging the industry to actively participate in this process and furthermore to offer technical support to the countries participating in the process;
11. To remain vigilant regarding the violations of human rights caused by the diamond trade.

The document above was edited for grammar.

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Tags: Belgium, diamonds, human rights, Kimberley Process, monitoring, regulations, resolution
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